Ever since Crackdown 3 was announced, the game’s most talked-about feature has been its cloud-powered Wrecking Zone PvP mode. For a while is seemed like cloud-powered destruction wouldn’t make the final game, but Microsoft has managed to make it happen. That said, the company has been rather vague about what the cloud actually contributes to the game. Is it really essential to making multiplayer work? Well, in a new interview with VentureBeat Microsoft Studios creative director Joe Staten revealed a few more specifics about Crackdown 3’s cloud-based mayhem…
“What we’re doing in Wrecking Zone is we’re running Havok in Azure. We’re spinning up the equivalent of 12 Xbox Ones, that level of cloud compute, to do this lockstep full destruction. What this means is that if you’re on a day one Xbox One from four years ago, or a brand new Xbox One X, that experience of destruction will be the same on all platforms. An Xbox One X will be rendering it in 4K and an Xbox One will be in 1080p or what have you, but a destructive chunk is a destructive chunk regardless of the platform. It’s really nice. It means that even if I have an older piece of hardware, I’m not getting a downgraded Wrecking Zone experience.”
Interestingly, Staten also states there’s really no technical limits on the size of Wrecking Zone’s map or number of players, saying sticking to 5v5 was mainly a design decision. We’ve heard that before, but Staten also hints at another reason for the limit – cost. Running Azure servers costs money, and at a certain point, it just isn’t worth it for Microsoft.
Staten also touched on the reason Crackdown 3 multiplayer took so long to develop. Part of the reason was technical of course, but a big part of the challenge was figuring out how to make a game where you can destroy whatever you want actually fun…
“[Cloud destruction] took longer than we thought to figure out. Certainly from a technical point of view, but even after we wrapped our heads around that problem, figuring out what was truly fun -- simple lessons we learned, like player count or session length or game rules. All of these things require careful testing. So much about multiplayer gameplay, arena PvP type multiplayer, is predictability of cover. […] Once you start to destroy all geometry in the arena, players can no longer rely on that fundamental rule of gameplay. We had to iterate, make mistakes, rebuild, and think about gameplay in a different direction.”
A number of outlets recently got to try out Crackdown 3’s multiplayer – you can check out a full Wrecking Zone match courtesy of IGN, below.
Crackdown 3 leaps onto PC and Xbox One on February 15.